By Spc. Michael PfaffSeptember 19, 2006
TIKRIT, Iraq (Aug. 12, 2006) - Chief of Staff of the Army General Peter Schoomaker visited troops at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq on Wednesday.Schoomaker met with troops during several re-enlistment, award, and "coin" ceremonies, in which Schoomaker personally swore in the re-enlisting troops, honored Soldiers receiving awards by personally pinning the awards, and handing out his coin to Soldiers nominated for outstanding performance. Of the many Soldiers awarded for their outstanding performance, Sgt. Scott McCroskey, an administration specialist with the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, had a chance to speak with Schoomaker and receive the general's coin. "I was pretty excited," McCroskey said. "This was the first time I was able to see a four star in this type of situation." McCroskey said in his 13 years in the Army, he's never witnessed a high ranking military official take ownership of meeting with troops, but Schoomaker impressed him. "The impact was great," he said. "Several privates and specialists were getting recognition they just normally don't get."McCroskey was one of many to receive a coin, but Schoomaker also took time to swear in several Soldiers that were re-enlisting, many of them on their second or third tour to Iraq. Schoomaker also pinned awards on a few Soldiers, including some Purple Heart recipients. Spc. Rebecca Macintyre, a motor transportation operator with the 96th Aviation Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, and Houston, Texas native, was injured during combat operations and awarded the Purple Heart. Schoomaker pinned the award on her during a ceremony. "It was an honor to have him give me the award," she said. "It is a big morale booster. He puts on his pants one leg at a time just like the rest of us, but he's an important man who doesn't have to take the time to do this for us." Most of the troops Schoomaker visited were awarded a personalized coin, like McCroskey. While, not as significant as a Combat Action Badge or a Purple Heart, the coins are a way to reward troops for exceeding expectations.McCroskey's job doesn't require him to be in harm's way outside the wire on a daily basis, but without his support in the rear, his unit would be in dire straits. "He's one of the unsung heroes of the 133rd MPAD," said Capt. David B. Page, commander of the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and Louisville, Ky. native. "Sgt. McCroskey gets less recognition than he deserves because of his job. This was a good way to reward his excellence." As an administration specialist, McCroskey is tasked with the typical administrational tasks, but he's also the unit's supply, maintenance, and postal sergeant. Page also referred to him as an "overall problem solver" who has helped negotiate equipment and contracting issues for the unit. "Recommending him to receive the coin from Schoomaker is just one more way for me to let him know ho well of a job he does," Page said. Despite the strict time constraints, Schoomaker made it around to three different ceremonies and took time to speak with each of the Soldiers he awarded. "He wanted Soldiers to talk to him and tell him what they do," McCroskey explained. "He wanted it to be very personal. You normally don't get that type of relationship with someone that high." Most of the troops under the 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Band of Brothers are winding down toward the end of their tour. During each of the ceremonies, Schoomaker ended by urging the troops to not give up the fight and to "sprint through the finish line."